by Nevaeh Rush, Vice President
A number of students this year at UMF have chosen not to enroll in the Fall semester due to the ramifications of COVID, and rather choosing to take the semester off.
Cylus Hill-Yastek, fourth year and creative writing major, is one of them. “I did not want to contribute to any possible spread with our community being so small,” Hill-Yastek said. “Our campus and our town are so connected.” Hill-Yastek, feeling frustrated with the way things have been handled, made a personal decision not to enroll in this fall semester because he did not want to take in-person classes.
“I would have done online classes, I wanted to,” he said. “My options though were super limited. There were no creative writing classes that I could take available.” The only classes that were offered to Hill-Yastek were typical general education [gen-ed classes] that he had no interest in taking. “After moving online last semester, I felt more prepared to do it again,” he said. “Although the gen-eds I could have done would have been okay, I would have liked to further my degree progress more in creative writing.” Hill-Yastek chose not to fill a semester and pay for general education classes he may not have needed, just because they were his only option.
“I am a devoted academic, I care about school and what I am doing,” he said. “Last year was no expectation, even when the semester went to shambles.” Hill-Yastek, a Dean’s List student, feels saddened to not be in classes this semester. “It is not a choice of not doing school because I don’t want to,” he said. “It is the fact that I even lost my job because I wanted to isolate myself from this pandemic and not be exposed.”
“We should have had a wider range of options and accommodations for students who did not want to be in person, such as myself.” he said. Hill-Yastek, among others, would feel anxious being in class and on campus, which would reflect the quality of their work being put out.
Destiny Clough, second year, Psychology major, feels the same. “There was not enough certainty when it came to my classes.” she said. Many students, even those who chose to attend this semester, feel the same when it comes to the uncertainty of classes and how campus was going to be run.
Cough is a student athlete, participating in track and field. “My sport is a huge motivator for me in school,” she said. “Seeing the struggles of how and if we were going to be able to participate was hard.” Not being able to have the normalcy of a typical sports season was something that pushed Clough to the decision of taking a break from academics this semester.
Clough and Hill-Yastek both felt as though student concerns were not given enough consideration. “Although there were emails,” Clough said. “I feel that there should have been more surveys, for the comforts of the students,” adding “I wish that they had made the transition last semester a little more comfortable,” she said. “That is why myself and others are not coming back this semester, because that transition was so rough.”
Hill-Yastek now faces the tough decision about the spring semester; The future is still unpredictable and there is nothing that the campus can do about that in and of itself. Students such as Hill-Yastek who receive scholarships and grants, face the uncertainty of whether they lose those or not. These financial dilemmas hold great importance in the decision for students choosing whether or not to come back.